US President Barack Obama speaks to members of the Democratic Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House February 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI)
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President Barack Obama met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Friday in a show of concern about China's human rights practices, and in spite of warnings from China that the visit would "seriously damage" ties with Washington.Obama reiterated his support for Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and human rights for Tibetans, the White House said in a statement.Obama also said he does not support Tibetan independence from China and the Dalai Lama said he was not seeking it, the White House said.The United States recognizes Tibet as part of China and does not support Tibetan independence, but supports the Dalai Lama's approach for more autonomy, and has long urged the Chinese government to hold talks with him, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.Friday's meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama comes less than a week after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited China. It is unclear whether he had briefed China in advance about the planned meeting. China is also the United States' biggest foreign creditor.Previous meetings between Obama and the Dalai Lama have not had serious repercussions.
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